Federal officials investigating 2 Colorado trench deaths

April 19, 2019

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — Federal officials are investigating the deaths of two Colorado workers who were trapped for hours in a collapsed trench.

The Greeley Tribune reports that the Denver-area office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed Thursday it was investigating the deaths but declined further comment.

Twenty-six-year-old Cristopher Lee Ramirez of Boulder and 41-year-old Jorge Baez Valadez of Denver were installing sewer pipe Tuesday in a 15-foot (4.5 meter) deep trench when it gave way. They were buried in dirt and were dead when emergency crews reached them. Crews had used a PVC pipe to communicate with one of the men during the rescue effort.

According to an OSHA factsheet, trenches 5 feet or deeper require some kind of protective system unless the excavation is being done in stable rock.